Ahead of planned industrial action by London's firefighters
The council is urging residents to be extra vigilant when it comes to fire safety in the home and in the workplace ahead of next week's planned industrial action by London's firefighters.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) plan to strike from 10am Friday 5 November to 9am Sunday 7 November.
The London Fire Brigade has contingency plans to draft in alternative fire fighting resources during the strike action but these will have limited capabilities.
As a result the council is urging residents - especially those who live in high-rise buildings -
and also the borough's businesses to take extra care while the industrial action is being staged.
The safety message is particularly important for people who smoke and those who use candles around the home.
The key messages are to call 999 immediately if you spot a fire. If it's inside your home or workplace – then get out of the property immediately and stay out until the emergency services arrive and deal with the situation.
People who live in high-rise blocks should evacuate their flats as quickly as possible if a fire breaks out inside their home and make sure they shut the front door behind them to hamper the spread of flames to communal areas and other properties.
Council tenants and leaseholders are also being advised to report any blockages or obstructions on communal landings and hallways that could either hinder peoples' escape or hamper rescue teams. People should also immediately report the presence of any materials that could be set alight by vandals or firebugs.
Among the practical messages to help keep people safe in their homes:
• Make sure that you have a smoke alarm, check that it works and change the battery if you need to.
• Make sure you know how you would get out of your home if there is a fire within your property – and that everyone else you live with also knows the best way of escape.
• Stub cigarettes out properly and dispose of them carefully.
• Put candles out, use a snuffer or a spoon, it’s safer than blowing them out when sparks can fly.
• Double check the cooker is off.
• Turn heaters off and put up fireguards.
• Turn off and unplug electrical appliances, unless they are designed to be left on – like fridges.
• Close inside doors at night to stop a fire from spreading.
• Make sure escape routes and exits are kept clear.
• Keep door and window keys where everyone can find them.
Apart from blazes sparked by unattended and carelessly discarded cigarettes, many domestic fires start in kitchens. Extra care should always be taken whilst cooking – especially if using chip pans or deep fryers.
To reduce the risk of a fire starting in the kitchen, residents should:
• Never leave chip pans unattended whilst on the heat
• Never fill a chip pan more than a third full
• Always turn the handle away from the cooker's edger and make sure it isn’t left above another burner that's switched on
• Make sure what you are putting in a chip pan or deep fryer isn’t very wet or covered in ice
• Always fry in small batches and do not allow the pan to overflow
• Never dry tea towels near naked flames or in the oven
• Don’t store items on top of eye-level grills
• Never put metal objects in microwaves
• Make sure air vents covering ovens and microwaves are kept clear
• Don’t trail electric cords or cables on top of or near cookers.
Council leader Edward Lister said he hoped that talks between the two sides over the next few days would avert the strikes and called on the FBU to call off the industrial action and return to the negotiating table.
He added: "If the strike action is not called off then it is vitally important that people exercise greater vigilance over the coming days when firefighting capacity in London will be under strain.
"These common sense tips could help prevent many of the fires that the brigade is called on to deal with on a daily basis."
For the latest information about the industrial action and more advice on fire safety in the home and workplace visit www.london-fire.gov.uk/IndustrialAction.asp
November 4, 2010